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DAVID TEMPLETON

INDEX-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER | March 24, 2016


“Unidentified Flying Objects are the biggest, most important topic on the planet Earth,” declares Jim Ledwith, Sonoma-based “UFOlogist” and curator-founder of the annual UFO Symposium. A popular film-and-conversation event, the Symposium will celebrate its sixth anniversary on April 1 and 2 as part of the upcoming Sonoma International Film Festival, running March 30 to April 3.


For his first three years at the festival, Ledwith’s blend of UFO-themed movies and panel discussions was offered as part of a fringe movie series called “The Side Bar.”


“But when I pointed out that that title sort of marginalized the subject of UFOs,” says Ledwith, “the festival agreed to call it ‘The UFO Symposium.’ We’re now the only annual UFO-themed movie symposium to take place at a mainstream film festival in America.”


Over the years, Ledwith – known to many by the nickname “UFO Jim” —has built a solid following for the symposium, through positive word-of-mouth and through his own website, UFOsrreal.com. The symposium has “beamed in” UFO aficionados from all over the country, drawn to Ledwith’s curious combination of films and special guests. This year, the UFO Symposium will feature one of its most famous guests ever.


Travis Walton, of Arizona, is best known as the subject of the 1993 film “Fire in the Sky,” a Hollywood spin on Walton’s memoir, detailing his tale of one of the most famous “alien abduction” stories in modern history. The still-debated event took place in Arizona’s remote Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, where Walton was working with a lumber crew the night of Nov. 5, 1975.


“He was abducted by beings from space,” says Ledwith. “For five days, the authorities thought he’d been murdered by his co-workers, and then he was returned. All of the co-workers who were there, who saw the spacecraft, they all took polygraph tests, and they all passed, except for one, and that one was inconclusive.”


Along with a Friday night screening of “Fire in the Sky,” starring D.B. Sweeny as Walton, and James Garner as an Arizona investigator, Ledwith will also be presenting a new documentary by Jennifer Stein, of Philadelphia. The doc, titled “Travis: The True Story of Travis Walton,” will screen Saturday morning, April 2, and will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Walton and Stein, plus others.


“I saw ‘Fire in the Sky’ when it originally came out and I thought, ‘Wow! What an amazing story,’” says Stein, who’s been involved in UFO conferences for several years. She has often described her own recollections of seeing something she believes to be an alien spacecraft.


“It was 1975,” she says, “the same year Travis was abducted. I was 19, and I was afraid to say anything about it for years. Eventually, I decided I could no longer stay in the dark, and so I decided to speak out, and try to find a way to make a difference.”


In 2000, Stein became involved with MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network), through which she eventually met Travis Walton, in 2010, at a UFO conference in Roswell, New Mexico. It was there that Stein first discussed with Walton the possibility of sponsoring his own UFO event in Arizona, including a visit to the location where Walton and the other members of the lumber crew claim their close encounter took place.

Recalls Stein, “I said to Travis – it’s time to draw a line in the sand. ‘Fire in the Sky’ distorted your story, and this conference would be a way to set the record straight.” With the idea of holding the event during the 40th anniversary of Walton’s disappearance, it was decided that, since it is often cold and snowing in the White Mountains of Arizona in November, a documentary film could be shot to give attendees the experience of visiting the alleged landing site, should weather prevent them from getting there. Once Stein began shooting interviews with those who still recalled the incident – including Walton, many of his logging team members, local law enforcement, and even the technician who administered the polygraph test – the fledgling filmmaker soon saw that she had enough material for a feature length documentary film.



“The more I got into the story, the more I found,” she says. “It was 40 years ago, sure, but people in the town do still remember this. I thought if I could tell the true story with the people involved, it would be a great thing for history.”


“Travis: The True Story of Travis Walton” was screened last November at Walton’s Skyfire Summit conference, just in time to mark the 40th anniversary of the “Fire in the Sky” incident. Since then, the documentary has collected 10 awards from various film festivals around the country


Interest in UFOs, says Stein, is enormous.


“It’s the next big issue for humanity,” she says. Acknowledging that there are plenty of people who remain unconvinced of the existence of aliens or UFOs, Stein invites them to come see her film in Sonoma and stay after to give feedback.


Says Stein, “There is no issue more important to the future of the world and to our species.”


Make ‘contact’ with David at david.templeton@sonomanews.com.


Crop Circles - trickery or sacred symbolism?

October 23, 2013 - Sonoma Valley Sun


10 Questions for ‘UFOlogist’ Jim Ledwith

October 20, 2013 Source: The Press Democrat

By DIANNE REBER HART


Jim Ledwith is a real estate broker by profession, a “UFOlogist” by passion. He has a lifelong interest in unidentified flying objects, extraterrestrials and other unknowns of the outer dimensions. At 68, he is a passionate lecturer and researcher dedicated to educating the public about the world beyond.


What inspired your interest in UFOs and ETs?

I’ve always had this passion and this drive. I didn’t know what it was but I was totally fascinated. (As a young boy) I had already been abducted.

Were you abducted just once? I, like millions of others, have been taken. First as a child on Long Island, then four or five years ago from this house (in a secluded area of east Sonoma). There were two in the hallway around 2 a.m. The larger one was 4 feet and the smaller one was about 3½-feet. They were standard extraterrestrials.


Had you been drinking or perhaps dreaming?

No. And I never sleepwalk. They were looking for me and I probably sensed them. I can theorize they were coming to get me.


What happened next?

I ran away, not toward them. It’s called fright flight. The next thing I remember I was sitting on the edge of my bed two hours later.


Are you absolutely convinced UFOs and ETs exist? I have very little doubt, basically no doubt. They’ve been here forever. There’s tons of evidence. ...


UFOJim at his Sonoma home, holding an enlarged photograph from July 19th, 1952.  He points to the UFO in the background of the photo - where eight unidentified flying objects were seen heading to the nation's capitol in Washington, D.C.  This phenomenon was known as the Washington Merry-go-round.  [Learn more about the Merry-go-round.]

Crop Circles, Animal Abductions Discussed

October 15, 2013

Source: Sonoma Index-Tribune



Jim Ledwith, better known as UFOJim, has been a ufologist for more than 45 years, researching UFOs and extraterrestrials, which he compiles on his website, ufosRreal.com.


He will host two lectures at the Sonoma Community Center on his work, including “Animal Abductions” on Tuesday, Oct. 22; and “Crop Circles” on Tuesday, Oct. 29, with both set for 7 to 9 p.m.


Ledwith’s investigative work includes interviews with retired military and defense industry personnel.


His research encompasses England’s crop circles, Area 51, Roswell, UFO conferences and on-going literature and Internet fact-finding. For nearly 10 years, he has been teaching his UFO classes through adult education, Rotary Clubs and other organizations both domestically and internationally. He also brough the genre to the Sonoma International Film Festival, which was the first film festival to show documentaries of this subject matter.


On Oct. 22, Ledwith will discuss the phenomenon of animal abductions. Since 1967, more than 10,000 have occurred on private ranches and farms, he said. Ledwith will talk about the significance of this mysterious act, and will show actual footage of a bovine abduction, along with substantiating FBI files and US statistics of these strange harvests.


Linda Moulton Howe, a graduate of Stanford University with a master’s degree in communication, will join Ledwith in conversation via Skype. She has devoted her documentary film, television and radio career to productions conderning science, medicine and the environment. Howe has received local, national and international awards, including three regional Emmys and a national Emmy nomination. Her films have include “Poison in the Wind,” and “A Sun Kissed Poison,” which compared smog pollution in Los Angeles and Denver; “Fire in the Water” about hydrogen as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels; “A Radioactive Water” about uranium contamination of public drinking water in a Denver suburb; and “A Strange Harvest,” which explored the worldwide animal mutilation mystery which has haunted the United States and other countries for decades.


Howe has also received honors as a medical producer in Boston’s WCVB Peabody Award; earned the Aviation and Space Writers Association’s award for “Writing Excellence in Television” and Sigma Delta chi “Excellence in Journalism” award and a Golden Plaque from the Chicago Film Festival.


Then on Oct. 29, Ledwith will give the lecture “Crop Circles Update.” Early crop circles were simply that - circles, he said. Since the late ‘80s, crop circles have exhibited comple geometric shapes.


Scientific evidence shows intense “ball of light” orbs are used in the creation of these intricate designs. Ledwith will sppeak in-depth about the Wickham Green circle along with an update on new crop circles.


The lectures are fun and informative, and all proceeds benefit the Sonoma Community Center. Adult tickets are $10 each; kids 8 to 17 are $5 each (parental discretion advised for the “Animal Abduction” lecture). Tickets are available at the door, online at sonomacommunitycenter.org, or by phone at 938.4626, ext.1.


The Sonoma Community Center is located at 276 E. Napa Street, and lectures will be held in room 110.


Oct 22: UFO expert Jim Ledwith at the Sonoma Community Center

October 16, 2013 Source: Bohemian.com


Crop Circles, Animal Abductions Discussed

October 15, 2013 Source: Sonoma Index-Tribune (article appears in the right column)


UFOJim presents “Crop Circle Update”

October 2013 Source: San Francisco Chronicle


Space oddities

October 26, 2011  Source: Sonoma Sun


I Want to Believe: Flying Saucers Take Center Stage at Saturday's Sonoma International Film Festival

April 9, 2011 Source: Sonoma Valley Patch

VIDEO: Sonoma resident and ufologist Jim Ledwith will answer questions on a panel of experts.


Mr. UFO: UFO Updates

October 29, 2004 The Sonoma Index-Tribune

By Tiffany Malehefski, Special to the Index-Tribune

 

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